A recent survey on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people between 10 and 24 years in UP, Bihar and Rajasthan has revealed that nine out of 10 had to seek some kind of counselling to cope with the mental health fallout of the unprecedented lockdown.
The survey was conducted by the NGO Population Foundation of India.
Six out of 10 young women surveyed also reported an increase in their workload. The Rapid Assessment Study conducted in May revealed that young women surveyed have found the pandemic more stressful than men of their age for a variety of reasons, ranging from extra workload at home and family pressure to discontinuation of education and even lack of access to sanitary napkins.
In Uttar Pradesh, 67 per cent of those surveyed below 18 years and 55 per cent of those above 18 years reported an increase in domestic workload. The study found that nearly one out of four respondents reported an increase in brawls at home and experienced depression.
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India, said, "Young women seem to be the worst-affected by the pandemic not only in India but also globally. It is clear from the findings of the Rapid Assessment Study that critical attention needs to be paid to our youth."
"Our approach to policy and programmes should take into account their specific needs and provide solutions accordingly. With schools still shut in most parts of the country, the absence of interaction and engagement will worsen the situation," she added.
"Data from the survey show that 'Frontline Workers' are uniquely positioned in their communities to address the health needs of our youth. It is critical at this time to equip our healthcare workers with the tools and materials to reach young people across the country," Muttreja said.
The survey assessed the level of Covid-19 knowledge among youth between 15 and 24 years, how it had impacted their lives and mental health and their needs and priorities.
Sanitary napkins a big problem
Nineteen per cent of young women reported an unmet need for sanitary napkins. With schools closed and a general restriction in movement, young women in various sections of society were forced to go back to using cloth during menstruation. Ten per cent of respondents reported an increase in tension as domestic fights increased during the lockdown.
Social media chief source of information
Around 68 per cent of the young respondents said that during the lockdown they were spending more time on social media than ever before. Twenty-one per cent rated Whatsapp and 37 per cent said TV channels were the source of information.
Thirty-seven per cent respondents in Uttar Pradesh said they would seek medical help if they developed any of the symptoms. While 39 per cent said they were regularly washing their hands, 33 per cent were aware of at least two symptoms of COVID-19. Thirty-six per cent said they would self-isolate if needed.